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The First Sunday After Christmas
Series C

 
Option #1: "Simeon Janus"
Luke 2:22-40
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.
 
Introduction: Tomorrow we enter upon the month of January. The names of our months come mostly from pagan tradition. January is named after the Roman god Janus. This god had one face looking forward and one looking backwards. It is a good name for the first month of the year. Simeon has the surname Janus because he does the same thing in today’s text.

I. His life reflected faith in the Hope--vv22-25; Gen 6:9; Job 1:1; Dan 6:22-23; Tit 2:11-14

II. Holding the Hope--vv26-29; Rev 14:13-14; Phil 1:23, Lk 2:34-35

III. Seeing hope for Gentiles--vv30-35; Isa 9:2, 60:1-3; Lk 2:10-11; Acts 28:28; Rom 15:8ff

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 2:28: Then took he him up in his arms--What must the holy soul of this man have felt in this moment! O inestimable privilege! And yet ours need not be inferior: "If a man love me, says Christ, he will keep my word; and I and the Father will come in unto him, and make our abode with him." And indeed even Christ in the arms could not avail a man, if he were not formed in his heart.

Luke 2:29

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace--Now thou dismissest, loosest him from life; having lived long enough to have the grand end of life accomplished.

According to thy word--It was promised to him that he should not die till he had seen the Lord’s anointed, Luke 2:26; and now, having seen him, he expects to be immediately dismissed in peace into the eternal world; having a full assurance and enjoyment of the salvation of God. Though Simeon means his death, yet the thing itself is not mentioned; for death has not only lost its sting, but its name also, to those who have, even by faith, seen the Lord’s anointed.

Luke 2:30: Thy salvation--That Savior which it became the goodness of God to bestow upon man, and which the necessities of the human race required. Christ is called our salvation, as he is called our life, our peace, our hope; i.e., he is the author of all these, to them who believe.

Luke 2:31: Which thou hast prepared--which thou hast MADE READY before the face, in the presence, of all people. Here salvation is represented under the notion of a feast, which God himself has provided for the whole world; and to partake of which he has invited all the nations of the earth. There seems a direct allusion here to Isaiah 25:6, etc.: "In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things," etc. Salvation is properly the food of the soul, by which it is nourished unto eternal life; he that receiveth not this, must perish for ever.

Luke 2:32: A light to lighten the Gentiles--A light of the Gentiles, for revelation. By Moses and the prophets, a light of revelation was given to the Jews, in the blessedness of which the Gentiles did not partake. By Christ and his apostles, a luminous revelation is about to be given unto the Gentiles, from the blessedness of which the Jews in general, by their obstinacy and unbelief, shall be long excluded. But to all true Israelites it shall be a glory, an evident fulfillment of all the predictions of the prophets, relative to the salvation of a lost world...

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THE MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN

Visual: a newspaper page of OBITUARIES

(Show page of paper:) Anybody recognize what page of the newspaper this is? Yes, it is the OBITUARY page. That’s a big word. What does it mean? It is the picture (most of the time) and the life story of someone who has died. Some of them were waiting to die, as was the man Simeon in today’s Gospel reading. We’ll visit him in a minute. Others on this page didn’t expect at all to die when they did. It might have been a heart attack or a stroke, since these are the most common causes of death. But it might also have been an accident, like a car accident. You often see that car accident victims are younger than the others on the page.

Here’s why I am telling you all this: Not one of us knows whether we will be here on this earth next New Year’s Eve. Some of us here this morning probably won’t be here a year from now. But we don’t know who.

Now let’s visit Simeon. He was apparently an old man, though the Bible doesn’t say so exactly. He was waiting for God’s promises to be kept. And do you know what happened? Mary & Joseph came to the Temple and God’s Spirit told Simeon that the little baby in Mary’s arms was the one he had been waiting for all of his life!

Then he said that there would be pain in Mary’s heart when this little one grew up. She would see her Son dying on the cross for our sins. And that’s why Simeon wasn’t at all afraid of dying. He had a Savior! He held the Savior in his arms! You and I have Him in our hearts, and that’s just like holding him close!

With him in your heart as your Savior, you can die in peace no matter what happens to you. I hope all within the sound of my voice will be here next New Year’s Eve but, if not, we will see you later. Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to you Word, for my eyes have seen you salvation. Have a Happy New Year!
 

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Option 2: "Compassion For Christmas!"
Colossians 3:12-17
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: Don't get even; get mad!

The Problem: We misunderstand a biblical theology of anger: instead of healthily and properly expressing our anger, we more often than not repress or express it in unhealthy and improper ways.

The Promise: Because God got mad at and even with us by crucifying Jesus for our sins, the Holy Spirit equips and empowers us for compassionate living in His name and for the service of others.

Notes:

1. In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. (Ephesians 4:26)

2. The best revenge is forgiveness...

We are encouraged to treat our neighbor who has sinned against us in the same way that God has treated us who have sinned against us--with mercy...

Whatever we are called upon to forgive pales in comparison to all that we have done in thought, word, and deed to offend our Father in heaven. God has set our many sins and offenses aside, forgiving them for the sake of Christ. He tenderly invites us to believe they all are washed away so that, in faith, we also will forgive...

Lord, grant us grace to live grace-fully. Amen!

(Portals of Prayer, May 2006)

3. From first to last, the Bible affirms that anger is sometimes right and fitting. God's anger provides the clearest case of righteous anger. The prophets often report that God is angry and recount the hurtful things that he has done or threatens to do to the people who now appear repugnant in God's sight.

On several occasions Jesus displayed a similar anger:

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here." And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand" (Mark 3:1-5a).

Jesus is angry with those in the synagogue because of their flagrant disregard for what God cares about (the well-being of the man with a withered hand), their hyperconcern with less important matters and their willingness to "work" on the Sabbath themselves in the nasty business of pursuing Jesus' death. Jesus' anger is fully appropriate: the synagogue attenders are deeply blameworthy; they deserve to be hurt; and they are morally repulsive to anyone with eyes to see. Furthermore, Jesus is in a moral position to make the "judgment" that his anger expresses. Jesus is pictured as angry in other passages as well, but he is never pictured as angry about the kind of minor offenses and frustrations that anger most of us. The Bible proclaims not only that God is often angry, but also that God is perfect love. Indeed, his anger is based in his love. And it is because Jesus loves the man with the withered hand, and because he loves God and his kingdom, that Jesus is angry at those who would obstruct compassion and plot against his life. But Jesus also loves the plotters; he is strongly disposed to see the beauty and wonderfulness in these creatures of God. The switch on his love-gestalt has a hair trigger, so that with the first sign of true repentance his eye for their goodness will overwhelm his eye for their sin.

Because God can be angry, we know that anger can be right and fitting. But is the anger of ordinary human beings ever right and fitting? The biblical answer is that even though our anger is not necessarily sinful, sin is a constant danger where anger is concerned. Sin always lurks in the vicinity...

The apostle Paul often lists things that are contrary to the Holy Spirit and the new life of the Christian. In a couple of these lists he mentions "anger and wrath" as belonging to the old self and needing to be "stripped off." In their place we are to clothe ourselves with such things as love and peace (see Colossians 3:5-17 and Ephesians 4:31). Since the apostle allows that proper anger in small quantities can be good, perhaps he is speaking here not of all instances of anger but rather of the vice of irascibility--of being an angry sort of person.

(Robert Roberts)

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This page was revised on: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 10:46:35 AM